Placerita Junior High Counselors Bring Career Exploration To The Students - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:30am

Two Placerita Junior High counselors are bringing career exploration to their students during summer school break time.

Ana Vander Leek and Lizbeth Ortiz are two counseling interns at the junior high and have developed a program to bring in local professionals in an array of career fields to come and meet students.

"We developed this program because we feel that the earlier kids get exposed to making decisions to careers, the better off they will be and the program will expose them to things that they might not normally be exposed to," Vander Leek said.

The program is held every Tuesday and Thursday at brunch, the 15-minute break time in between the summer school classes.

The children are really hands on and they'd rather see things and be more interactive, Vander Leek said.

"I think once they hit high school, they are just hammered with what courses they have to take to graduate," Ortiz said. "They're thinking about their classes and not the long run, like what they're going to do in college and beyond. Right now, they get to experience a little bit of everything and even just a hint of what their future could be."

Professionals including chef Joanna Vallelunga; food director and volunteer Katie Fundra from the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center; Lynn Holmgren, PJHS teacher and owner of David & Lynn Photography; Sgt. Tim Vander Leek from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station; Liz Rodriguez a probation officer and Dannay Rodriguez, a model/actress for American Eagle Outfitters.

Vander Leek and Ortiz are both students of the University of La Verne, Vander Leek just finished her classes and Ortiz is in her first year of college, VanderLeek said.

"It's a good thing. The kids need something positive to keep them engaged instead of doing other things," said Lesley Day, a summer school administrator for Placerita Junior High. "Liz and Ana are really going above and beyond for our kids. They're interns, they're not getting paid and yet they're doing so much for the kids; brunch time activity, getting ready for summer school, and all of the cases they've worked on with the kids."

"They've done an amazing program," added Loni Pennay, a summer school administrator.